Get involved

Whether you like birding with others, learning new skills, helping out, or just meeting other people who share your interest, there are lots of ways you can get involved in Dorset.

Young birders

Samuel Levy, Hannah Westhenry and Mya Bambrick are BTO Youth Ambassadors for Dorset. Read Hannah's account below of the first meeting in November 2021 of young Dorset birders. That event was at Lodmoor in Weymouth and another event was held in Bournemouth/Poole in January 2022.

BTO Dorset Newsletter Dec 2021- Hannah Westhenry article

The Bird Club is very pleased to announce a joint venture to support young birders across Dorset. From 1st August 2022 we have joined forces with CHOG to offer free membership of both clubs to anyone under 25. There will be reciprocal arrangements, so that anyone joining one club will be invited to join the other at the same time. This new venture is part of a collaborative, supported by the BTO Youth Team, which we hope will extend to other organisations in Dorset over time. The youth collaborative will also support BTO-led events for young people, some of which have already taken place. Samuel Levy of BTO Youth Team says "All these events will help to increase the representation of young people across the bird clubs and help us create a more welcoming environment, while encouraging our young members to help us shape our events and membership so that they get the most from their experience". Read what he has to say about it here:

Samuel Levy writes about new joint venture for young birders in Dorset

Female birders

Also we've set up a WhatsApp group for female birders in Dorset. The ‘Lady Birders’ group has been set up to help people get more from their shared enjoyment of birding. Through the group they can arrange to meet each other, go to bird meetings and events together, send in photos and sound recordings for identification, and build friendships. The aim is to create a friendly space where everyone can chat, get to know one another, and feel comfortable. If you're interested in joining and are a Bird Club member please contact veritypixiehill@gmail.com.

Volunteering

If you're interested in helping with wildlife conservation there are opportunites through a number of voluntary and public sector bodies. Here are a few:

Dorset Countryside Volunteers, an independent group of volunteers who undertake work associated with the countryside and conservation, on behalf of charities and other organisations involved in conservation. They have tasks most weekends throughout the year, across the county.  See https://www.dcv.org.uk/

Dorset Wildlife Trust offer a great many opportunities, and have volunteer teams in most parts of Dorset. See their volunteer pages at https://www.dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk/things-do/volunteering

Kingfisher Barn in the Stour Valley in north Bournemouth, have plenty of ways to be involved if yiou're interested in volunteering https://www.visitstourvalley.co.uk/support/volunteer-opportunities.aspx  

RSPB welcome volunteers at their reserves, especially Arne where there is a residential volunteer programme. Worth asking locally at Arne or the Weymouth reserves (Lodmoor and Radipole Lake) about current volunteering opportunities, or visit their national page at https://www.rspb.org.uk/get-involved/volunteering-fundraising/volunteer/

Upton Coutry Park have volunteers for gardening and for practical conservation, and also for projects - see https://uptoncountrypark.com/get-involved/volunteering/

And check the Countryside Jobs Service website for the latest round-up of volunteering jobs in the conservation/outdoor sector nationwide https://www.countryside-jobs.com/cjs-focus/current-edition

Surveying 

  There is plenty of opportunity for people to get out surveying birds. BTO are always looking for people to help with their important national surveys - you don't have to be a BTO member to take part. 

More people are needed to undertake monthly counts at some of our inland wetlands as part of the BTO Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS). See message below from Dorset organiser Nicky Hoar:

WeBS surveyors monitor the UK's internationally important non-breeding waterbirds in a long term survey run by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) with RSPB and JNCC .   Volunteers are needed to count waterbirds once a month on core Sunday dates at a number of inland sites in Dorset.   This vital work provides data on abundance and distribution to help inform conservation efforts.  You can find out more and see the current vacant sites at https://www.bto.org/our-science/projects/wetland-bird-survey   or email Nicky Hoar, BTO WeBS Local Organiser, Dorset (excluding estuaries) on nicola.hoar@yahoo.com.

Local birding and wildlife groups

Some areas have local networks to share news or to support less experienced birders. If there isn’t one in your area, why not set one up? Some groups have found WhatsApp to be a great way to communicate. Let us know if there’s a group you’d like listed.

Bridport Bird Club 

About us: The Bridport Bird Club was started in 2021 and comprises a small group of local birders carrying out surveys and bird related conservation projects in the Bridport and West Bay area of West Dorset. New members very welcome!

o Website: Bridportbirdclub.blogspot.com

o email: peteforrest81@gmail.com

o Twitter: N/A

o Facebook: N/A

CHOG – Christchurch Harbour Ornithological Group

About us: With over 600 members, CHOG is dedicated to recording, promoting and conserving the wildlife of the Christchurch Harbour area. Members enjoy a free copy of the annual, 120-page publication, the Birds of Christchurch Harbour, as well as access to several indoor and outdoor events each year. www.CHOG.org.uk/Join

o Website: www.CHOG.org.uk Updated daily with sightings news

o email: secretary@CHOG.org.uk

o Twitter: @CHOG_birds

o Facebook: www.facebook.com/groups/chog.org.uk

Dorchester Bird Group

About us: The Dorchester Bird Group started in 2023. We are a group of local birders sharing knowledge about the birds of Dorchester and its surrounding area, with the aim of supporting conservation activities. There will be informal meetings and new members are always very welcome!

o Website: N/A

o email: Nigel Tooth  - nigeltooth@hotmail.co.uk

o Twitter: N/A

o Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1240872289972524

Lytchett Bay Nature Partnership

About us: Lytchett Bay and its surroundings provide habitats for a huge diversity of wildlife as well as open spaces for people to enjoy a variety of activities. Almost all the land surrounding the Bay is now in sympathetic conservation minded ownership. The management and creation of a 'Nature Partnership' is a public expression of the intention of the parties to work together to manage the area for its special features.

o Website: N/A

o email: shaun.narwhal@btinternet.com  (Chair of partnership)

o Twitter: @LytchettP

o Facebook: Friends of Lytchett Bay

Poundbury Nature Watch

About us: Poundbury Nature watch was established late 2016 with the intent to encourage people to look at and report the birds that were being seen in and around Poundbury, our gardens and the immediate locale defined by geographic boundaries up to circa 1.5km on all but the eastern, town, sides of the development.  Open to all residents – anyone and everyone, inexperienced or experienced watchers.  The organisation is very informal with the collated sightings report published to interested parties monthly.

o Website: N/A

o email: ttopper@btinternet.com

o Twitter: N/A

o Facebook: N/A

RSPB - South Dorset Local Group

About us: The group offers its members and visitors opportunities to learn more about birds and other wildlife in Dorset and further afield by organising a programme indoor and outdoor events. It also raises money to support local RSPB nature reserves. Evening indoor meetings are held in Dorchester from September to April and field trips are run once or twice a month between September and June. People with less experience or new to birdwatching are particularly welcome.

o Website: https://group.rspb.org.uk/southdorset/

o email: (use Contact page on the website)

o Twitter: N/A

o Facebook: N/A

Shaftesbury Bird and Wildlife Group

About us: The Shaftesbury Bird and Wildlife group was set up in November 2020 by young naturalist Alex Chapman, with the aim to connect bird and wildlife watchers, of all abilities, in the Shaftesbury and North Dorset area. By connecting nature lovers and sharing records, we want to help improve and understand the natural world across the North of Dorset and the surrounding counties.

o Website: N/A

o email: shaftesburyBWG@gmail.com

o Twitter: @shaftesburyBWG

o Facebook: Shaftesbury Bird and Wildlife Group

U3A (University of the Third Age)

U3A is established in most towns and communities across the county, providing education and activity - open to everyone who's no longer in full-time work. Several have birdwatching or nature groups:

Bridport and District - birdwatching (note April 2024: website appears to have been deactivated)

Christchurch - birdwatching

Dorchester and District - birdwatching

Purbeck - nature walks

Shaftesbury and Gillingham - natural history

Verwood - birdwatching 

Is there a local birding group in your area?

If so, please tell us about it. If not, why not set one up? People love to get to know others nearby who share their interest. It's easy to connect with people in the age of social media.

How you can help Dorset Bird Club

Whatever your skills and interests there are ways you could join the ever-growing team of enthusiasts helping the Club in a variety of ways. We always need more people to help us make the Club as relevant and important as possible for our members and for conservation. Here are just a few examples:

·       Writers – we often need new people to join the team of species account writers for the annual report. And good articles are always welcomed for the newsletter and annual report.

·       Conservationists – the Bird Club supports various conservation projects and we’d welcome people who can help us make a difference.

·       Experienced enthusiasts – if you’ve been birding for several years, think what you could do to help newer birders. How about setting up a local birding group, running local bird walks, join our Forum or help answer i.d. queries on Facebook?

·       Educators – do you have a wildlife group in your school/institution? Would you like to get involved with the Club in some way? We’re very keen to promote bird-and wildlife-watching in schools, let’s have a chat!

·       Farming fanatics – if you’re a farmer with a keen interest in birds, would you like stronger links with the Club? Why not contact us for a chat?

·       Finance fiends - Our Treasurer would very much appreciate some help with the vital tasks needed to run the Club's finances. 

·       Photographers – we always appreciate top quality bird photos for our daily sightings blog, newsletter and annual bird report.

·       Artists – we’d love to have more original drawings, sketches and paintings for the annual report. Must be good quality, accurate depictions of birds seen in Dorset that year.

·       IT divas – we need your help! We need more people on our monthly rota for entering bird sightings data into Excel for our database.

·       Website wizards – we need your help too! Keeping the website fresh and interesting is a challenge. ‘Webmasters’ especially welcome!

·       Speakers – we’d love to be able to offer interesting talks, either at meetings/conferences, or perhaps in the future as virtual events, podcasts, webinars or similar.

And above all, of course, send in your records or enter them in BirdTrack or eBird, and take part in the crucially important BTO surveys to help monitor our bird populations.   

Wanted: Articles for the Newsletter

We would welcome articles from our members for publication in future newsletters.  They can be serious or light-hearted, short or long and on any bird related topic you might like to write about. We are particularly keen to receive articles from our younger members and those who have recently taken up birdwatching irrespective of age.  Please send contributions to: admin@dorsetbirds.co.uk

Learn how to be a ringer or nest recorder

Bird Ringing 

If you are interested in becoming a bird ringer then you will need to contact the BTO and ask to be put in touch with a licensed Trainer. The details for this can be found at https://www.bto.org/our-science/projects/ringing

In Dorset there are several licensed Trainers who may decide to take you on if they have vacancies. If the Trainer you contact cannot take you on, for whatever reason, then they should give you details of another local Trainer.